WASHINGTON: More than 100 bomb threats against US Jewish organizations and the desecration of three Jewish cemeteries are stoking fears of a rise of anti-Semitism, with some analysts blaming the politics of the Trump era.
On Friday, the Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested former journalist Juan Thompson over a handful of the bomb threats, saying he made them to frame an ex-girlfriend in what they called a revenge case rather than a hate crime.
But that left unsolved more than 100 other threats made since the beginning of the year, some of which forced the evacuation of Jewish community centers (JCC) and schools.
The Anti-Defamation League has tabulated a total of 121 threats reported since January 1, labeling them an “epidemic.”
Unlike Thompson’s emailed threats, the majority were made by a person or people by telephone using voice-masking, automated calling and spoofing technologies to hide their identity and location.
All proved to be hoaxes and no one has been injured.
But on February 16, police in South Carolina arrested a man allegedly tied to white supremacist groups for allegedly planning to attack a synagogue.
Law enforcement authorities are meanwhile investigating attacks on Jewish cemeteries in three cities which saw hundreds of gravestones tumbled and broken.
The latest took place in Rochester, New York late Wednesday.
“Just because there’s been an arrest today doesn’t mean that threats have disappear or will stop,” Evan Bernstein, New York regional director for the Anti-Defamation League—also a target of the bomb threats—told a press conference Friday.
“There are many more JCC bomb threats that have not been solved… and we hope all law enforcement will continue to be diligent.”
Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Alabama, which tracks racist and hate groups, said it is too early to say whether there is a real upsurge in anti-Semitic activity in the United States.
According to the ADL, there were more than 900 anti-Jewish incidents reported across the country in 2015.
But Potok says that the rise of Donald Trump to the White House has encouraged extreme right, neo-Nazi groups and boosted the confidence of activists with racist agendas.
A number of Trump advisors, particularly his chief strategist Steve Bannon, have had links to right-wing groups.